Visual communication experts visit SBU for “Eyes on the Prize” lecture

By Caitlyn Morral

On Thursday, Oct. 29, St. Bonaventure University hosted a presentation, “Eyes On the Prize,” in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on the topic of visual communications and its increase in development. The presentation, hosted by marketing and communications consultant Aimee J. Lewis and president of McDougall Communications Mike McDougall, emphasized the importance of visuals in today’s world of communication.

The lecture began with a slideshow of a variety of smart phone applications that incorporated the use of a phone’s camera. One such app, called “Like That Pet,” allows users to take a picture of an animal that they would like to have as a pet of their own. The app will then find shelters that have similar looking animals that the user can adopt and bring into their own home.

Another app that was spotlighted, called “Shade Scout,” finds shades of makeup from different brands based on a specific color of an object within a picture that the user takes with their device. Users can then use a picture of themselves to see what the shade looks like on their skin tone from different brands.

Throughout the discussion, McDougall made sure to highlight the significance of graphics on social media in the modern world.

“Motion graphics are not just going to be huge, they are going to become more and more of what we expect,” said McDougall. “There is definitely a lot of opportunity there.”

Virtual glasses and contact lenses, in which users will be able to have a “screen” in front of their eyes wherever they go, was also a hot topic for the night. In 2012, Google introduced their own virtual glasses called “Google Glass” to the world, before taking them away to perfect them in 2014.

Being able to have technology within a person’s vision without needed to look at a device is a concept that intrigued some students in the audience, including sophomore and journalism and mass communications major Sarah Waychoff.

“What stuck out to me the most is how advanced technology is going to be in the next five years, especially with the lens for your eye,” said Waychoff. “That concept really blew my mind. It is crazy to think that we will be able to get so much information right in front of an eyeball.”

McDougall also addressed the safety concerns that a person faces when using this form of technology.

“Right now, I think that you will see problems because people would become distracted,” said McDougall. “Long term, I think it is going to be a lot safer because you can use the intelligence to prevent accidents. We are going to have to trust it, and that is the hard part.”

Besides predicting future technology advances, Lewis and McDougall compared beverage and candy brands to show how crucial both the visual and content aspects are to marketing a brand.

A participant, freshman Dominic LoVallo, had the chance to get up on stage sort a series of candy bars show which brands he thought would be the post popular.

“I would say that the most interesting part for me was comparing all of the drink and candy brands,” said LoVallo. “It was cool to see how something that I thought might be really popular was not, because their companies just are not marketing as well as others might be.”

In terms of which visual feature will become the most successful within the next five years, Lewis has a few opinions of her own.

“Sometimes, I think that it is easier to predict those that might fail,” said Lewis. “There are so many apps that are out there, but your peers and yourself determine what will be successful. The big ones that we have right now are Instagram and Twitter. However, Pinterest has seen a huge leap in certain areas. Some of the biggest apps might not even exist yet.”

Lewis also makes a point in saying that, while Instagram is a great personal app, Twitter is better for the professional world.

“It is funny because my favorite app on a personal level is Instagram, which does not have a sharing feature,” said Lewis. “I absolutely love sharing photos and being able to interact from different people around the world. However, on a professional level, I would say that Twitter is easy and quick to share information with a strict character count.”

Professor in the Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication Heather Lynn Harris was also able to receive insight from the lecture.

“The thing that I enjoyed learning about the most was Ditto Labs, because I have always been intrigued by visual images, especially on cell phones,” said Harris. “If you analyze those images, then you can learn a lot.”

From analytics to visual components, “Eyes On the Prize” incorporated a lot of knowledge on the social media world that we live in. One important thing to remember, according to McDougall, is to be quick with communications.

“Timeliness,” said McDougall. “You have got to post content quick, and as fast as possible so that you can get it out there.”

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